I bought my copy in Japan last week and I am still getting used to the lay-out and levels in difficulty in each stream. When I have worked out how best to use the book and when I have got rid of my jet-lag, I intend to subject the material to repetitive force feeding.
Although I also have the Fujisawa Tesuji Dictionary, I felt I had to buy this work because first, Thomas Hsiang recommended it to me a long time ago as the "quickest way to shodan" (and I assume he means shodan in the strong sense, rather than, with due respect, shodan in the British or Japanese amateur sense) and because, second, one participant in a recent rec.games.go discussion on this work stated that going through the B and C stream problems a few times will result in one's being able to "shock and awe opponents who are currently beating you easily". Third, I wanted a source of tesuji problems more challenging than those found in the James Davies book, and without the answers printed on the same page (which makes the Fujisawa dictionary quite hard to use as a problem set).
Naturally, I invite tips and comments below.
Tom: I believe the "shock and awe" phrase was used of the Segoe Dictionary. http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&safe=off&selm=3ec539b1.15351122%40news.telus.net
PatrickB: Having just received mine from amazon.co.jp, I'll agree that if you can consistently do the A-level problems, you'll shock and awe a lot of people. Great books.
mgoetze: Uhm, I can understand the comment about Japanese amateur shodan, but what's wrong with British ones? And which are stronger... are Korean shodan the one true shodan standard?
Tamsin: I was thinking somewhere along the lines of the old (pre-3-stone shift in Summer 2002) IGS 1d*. I am about British shodan in strength (should promote to 1k* on IGS today), but I cannot believe that Thomas Hsiang meant that level when he said to me "the quickest way to shodan". He told me that the lowest rank he recognised was really 10k - everything before that was a beginner. I don't know if he meant the Korean system or perhaps the system of ranking in China or whatever, but I would reiterate that I believe he meant some higher standard than euro or Japanese shodan. Anyway, I didn't mean anything disrespectful, but only to point out that this book is recommended by an extremely strong player for reaching what he considers to be a decent standard quickly.
PatrickB: If you're interested, here are the ISBN numbers for the new volumes. Searching for them at a variety of book stores (I used amazon.co.jp) should enable you get find and order the appropriate books. Kiseido also sells them, though at a price higher than you can probably get if you fight through ordering from a Japanese supplier and are willing to wait for overseas shipping.
JohnAspinall: Seconding what Patrick says, at current exchange rates, you can get them from amazon.co.jp, plus their express shipping, and still save over the domestic (US) supplier. Mine arrived in 3 days, costing me about $23 per volume.
Velobici: These three volumes can be purchased from Kinokuniya Bookstores. Kinokuniya sells these books for $29 each as of August 31, 2003. The staff at the New Jersey is very patient with folks that do not speak or read any Japanese. Patience is required of the purchaser as well. The English spoken by the at least some of the staff is not fluent.
The copies that I purchased are print with a price of 2,000 yen each. Delivery to a bookseller in the US clearly adds a significant cost. As of August 31, 2003, one US dollar is valued at 116 Japanese yen. About $17 each volume.